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Indonesian security forces hunt inmates after mass breakout

Indonesian security forces were Saturday hunting for more than 200 inmates still on the loose after a mass breakout from an overcrowded prison on Sumatra island.



Riau: Indonesian security forces were Saturday hunting for more than 200 inmates still on the loose after a mass breakout from an overcrowded prison on Sumatra island, police said.

More than 440 inmates fled the jail in Pekanbaru city Friday after prison guards let them out of their cells to pray. Police initially said about 200 inmates were involved in the breakout but later revised up the figure.

Footage on local TV stations showed many men, some wearing sarongs, scurrying out of the jail, with no sign of officials in pursuit.

Authorities launched a massive manhunt and about half had been recaptured by Saturday evening, but security forces were still hunting for the rest, local police spokesman Guntur Aryo Tejo told AFP. 

Tejo said authorities had initially given incorrect information about the number involved in the breakout due to a "chaotic" situation, adding that the figure was revised up after a meeting of officials Saturday. 

"We have come to the conclusion that the number of inmates who escaped stands at 442, we have recaptured 216 of them," he told AFP. 

Security forces have expanded their hunt from Pekanbaru to neighbouring districts, and as far as Batam, an island off the east coast of Sumatra, Tejo said.

"We have deployed all of our resources to hunt them," he said.

Most of those recaptured had been caught around Pekanbaru. Dozens of the escaped inmates headed directly to another prison where they handed themselves in. 

Tejo said the inmates told the police they decided to break out due to inhumane conditions in the prison. 

The male-only prison has a capacity of 300 people but was holding 1,870 inmates, with only five guards and a porter on duty at any one time, said the director general of prisons, I Wayan Dusak. 

The situation at the jail was now calm, Tejo said. 

Jailbreaks are common in Indonesia, where inmates are often held in unsanitary conditions at overcrowded prisons. 

There was a spate of breakouts in 2013, including one where about 150 prisoners -- including terror convicts -- escaped from a jail.

From Zee News

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